06.08.2005 Fiat's potent new rally weapon - the Super 2000 Punto - has finally broken cover, caught in the flesh testing at Balocco

Fiat's potent new rally weapon - the stunning Super 2000 Punto - has finally broken cover, caught in the flesh testing at the Balocco proving ground. Photos presented by Italian specialist magazine SAM (SportAutoMoto) Rally this week, reveal an aggressive all wheel drive rally car, clearly demonstrating the lines of the new Punto, with all the trappings of a front-line rally car: bulging wheel arches, scooped air intakes, a roof spoiler and air vent, and chunky cut-out bumpers.

The brand new rally car, based on the all-new, Giugiaro-styled Fiat Punto - which will make its world debut at the Frankfurt IAA next month - is designed to conform to the FIA's proposed new 'Super 2000' regulations. Built by N.Technology - Fiat Auto's competition's department - the on-track test and development programme is now being carried out by factory rally driver Paolo Andreucci, who is the reigning CSAI Italian Rally Championship Super 1600 title holder.

The 'Super 2000' regulations are now being drawn up with the aim of reducing the World Rally Championship's ever escalating costs, pushed up in part by a recent increase in the number of qualifying events. The idea is to create an affordable rally car, with all the main costs tightly controlled. These will include a restriction on electronic aids, and an engine rev limit set at 8,300rpm. Up to eight manufacturer's have expressed an interest, including Renault - who are believed to be close to testing a prototype - and Japanese giant, Toyota.



The proposed new Super 2000 category will draw on the highly successful Super 1600 class, with the important incorporation four wheel drive traction, something that has been lacking in the smaller category. Along with weight limit of 1,100kg, and an engine capacity that is raised by 400cc, the Super 2000 cars are expected to be fast, very exciting to watch, and a real alternative to the current crop of 'WRC' machines from the likes of Peugeot, Citroen, Subaru and Mitsubishi.

The Super 2000 Fiat Punto rally car now being developed by N.Technology will eventually pump out over 280bhp (although the prototype - currently using a 2.0-litre engine drawn from the Alfa Romeo 156 racers running in the FIA World Touring Car Championship to 'Super 2000' regulations - is only running with around 250bhp at present). Once development of the project has progressed a bit further down the line Fiat hope to persuade MotoGP ace rider Valentino Rossi to test the car. Fiat competition's boss Matilde Tomagnini has made no secret of the fact that she wants him to drive for the team when a full rally programme is given the green light.

by Marco Tenuti

Photos: SAM Rally

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Photos: SAM Rally / 2005 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed